With the best will in the world, I’m not very good with kids. You either have an affinity with them; they take to you and you take to them, or you don’t. I don’t!!!!
Having said that, I’m full of admiration for what youngsters can do on a trials bike and last weekend rather than ride a trial myself, I went to the Westmorland Club’s round of the ACU National Youth Championship which was held at Tow Tops above High Newton in South Lakeland.
The last time I had been at a youth national was two years previously when I observed at a Richmond A/B round, and prior to that it must have been about 12-14 years earlier over in the north east somewhere – it was so long ago that I don’t even remember where!
As you may well have gathered from the news coverage, the Saturday trial, which was for the C/D class was held on a day when Cumbria enjoyed the wettest single day for at least 30 years. The local paper said it was the wettest day for 67 years, whatever, it rained and blew in biblical proportions. A great day for 8 to 12 year olds to be riding trials bikes!
Whilst I’m not that interested in youth trials, back in my TMX days when Editor Bill Lawless was traipsing the country with his son Sean in tow, he frequently came back to work on Monday with tales of trials that were incredibly tough. It seems to me that from my two most recent experiences, little has changed.
In no way am I blaming the Westmorland Club, for they were guided by a parent that regularly attends youth events, but with the best will in the world, I simply can’t see the point of putting on events that are so incredibly hard that once you get away from the top three or so, it’s a struggle for survival.
To some extent it’s alright for the A/B lads to have tough events (they rode on Sunday) as they do at least have several years experience and in most cases have developed considerable riding ability, but to make it mega hard for youths C/D, who in some cases are little more than babies, seems ridiculous to me.
The problem, as is so often the case, is that whilst the better riders in each category can do it, the others simply can’t. Obviously the weather didn’t help on Saturday, but to my mind, especially in D class, you need to have sections that are wide and set out in a manner in which the riders can actually ride their bikes. As I understand it, so often sections are very narrow, with lots of turns and rocks that are simply too big for the bikes being ridden.
If I’m wrong, and I could well be, then by all means let me know. But how about those clubs that run youth events next year aim for a trial in which the 15th placed rider loses no more than 80 marks. If that means the winner is on single figures, then so be it. But I simply don’t see the point in having riders finish in the championship points with scores in excess of 150 marks.
In different circumstances, it would be classed as child abuse!!